OVERLAND PARK, Kansas - It took the Monroe Community College women's basketball team a quarter to get going, but once the Tribunes got into gear, they showed why they're the top seed at the NJCAA Division II national tournament.
MCC overcame a five-point deficit after a cold-shooting first quarter and cruised the rest of the way to a 77-54 victory over United Tribes Technical College in the first round of the national tourney. Monroe (30-0) will move on to the quarterfinals against eight-seeded North Arkansas Thursday evening.
UTTC hit the offensive boards and took advantage of some poor Tribune shooting around the basket to take a 21-16 lead after the first quarter.
Monroe responded in a big way in the second, outscoring the Thunderbirds 21-2 to take a double-digit lead into the break.
After a free throw by UTTC, Shanice Johnson hit a pair of baskets and Naje Gibson scored inside to tie it at 22. Alexis Brito then hit a pair of free throws to give MCC its first lead since 11-10 and prompt a Thunderbird time out.
Adre'onia Coleman followed with four points and Johnson scored in the paint to make it 30-22. After a UTTC free throw, Alexis Brito nailed a 3 to put MCC up by 10. Brito and Shyana McLeod then added layups down the stretch to give the Tribunes a 37-23 lead at the break.
Johnson and McLeod then took over in the third quarter as the Tribunes further took control. Johnson scored 13 and McLeod added eight as Monroe outscored UTTC 28-16 in the frame to push the lead to 65-39 heading to the fourth.
MCC put it away in the final frame, holding off any UTTC attempt at a rally to come away with the win.
Johnson finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks for the Tribunes. McLeod was 6-for-7 from the floor and scored 12, and Deja Carroll chipped in with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Coleman had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds to go along with four assists. Brito added 10 points.
MCC held UTTC to 32 percent shooting from the floor, including 2-for-16 from beyond the arc. The Tribunes also forced 20 Thunderbird turnovers.